St. George's Day and the odds of you knowing that are next to none! Everyone has heard of St. Patrick's day, even Cinco de Mayo, but alas very few people know of St. George's Day. The English have done a good job over the years of infiltrating many countries across the globe, but they never really took St. George with them. Most of the time it seemed to be in the name of Christianity or trade, never in the name of St. George. And what was St. George famous for? Yep, slaying a dragon.
Actually many countries have St. George's Day on their calendar and do mark it in some way or another, including Germany, India and Palestine. But for England it's also their National Day - their day of pride. That is the theory anyway. So I had a look at the British papers today and what did I see? Basically nothing. The Daily Telegraph, The BBC and The Daily Mirror all had no mention of St. George's Day. Not even The Guardian spoke of our national day, although I was very saddened to read that sitcom writer John Sullivan (of 'Only Fools and Horses' fame) died yesterday. All in all, very disappointing.
I think it's a sign of the times of how some countries are starting to lose their identities. Whenever I return to England I am always surprised at how much it has changed since my last visit. Surveillance cameras are everywhere, public places are festooned with video recording equipment. No place in rural England is safe from the ever-watching traffic camera. Cars dawdle on roads that were not built for the current load, gardens shrink as new homes are built on existing plots. Even that ever sacrosanct place, the English Pub, is disappearing. St. George, 'who is he anyway?' is probably the response you'll get in many of the now completely pan-European High Streets of major cities.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of god
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariots of fire!
I will not cease from metal fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
These were the words we sung at school, the words to a hymn entitled 'Jerusalem' that was supposed to signify the beauty, history and pride of England. St. George's Day fitted in to this England, my England.
Tonight I will no doubt be off to the local pub - JJ Mahoney's - in Redmond, WA, USA where I will raise a glass to St. George. No one else will notice. No one else will care. Life will go on as usual for everybody else.
I look forward every year to St. George's Day and I am proud to be English. Life has brought me to another country to live, but that doesn't take away my heritage. So, this is a call to all of you with some English blood:
Celebrate St. George's Day with pride today...